Beat back pain
Learn from Lance Armstrong’s core strength team to beat back pain and to be a super strong, super stable cycling powerhouse
Posted 19 September 2012
Words by Simon Whiten
Can arching your back really be the answer that so many back pain suffering cyclists are looking for?
If I said I could make you love me in just 3 days would you think that, despite my boyish good looks, I was mad? Well if you have back pain then I reckon I just might be able to achieve it with this new exercise regime that will have you pain free in three to five days.
By chance I came across these exercises when I was injured and unable to ride my bike, after reading a tweet from a team-mate, Neil MacLeod, author of the popular Raceright.cc blog who also suffers from back pain. I say ‘was injured’ as it was in the past but can you believe it was only 3 days ago?!! Now my back has never felt so good! (No, this is not a commercial and I am not on commission!)
I have suffered from back pain for most of my cycling life, made worse by losing one of my hamstring muscles when a snapped titanium seat post ripped into my leg in a nasty racing accident. This muscular in-balance has meant that I rarely ever race or ride pain free. In pursuit of a cure to this continuing situation I have consulted physio, osteopath, chiropractor, sport masseur and so on. All have helped my situation but none sorted it once and for all, nor have any of them ever proposed anything quite like the routine that is shown in these videos.
The exercises come from none other than the team behind the legendary Lance Armstrong’s core power and back fitness. I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but love him or loathe him, do not dismiss him, as you can still learn from him and his team of experts. They did win 7 Tour’s de France after all and even if you doubt the legitimacy of all of his methods, do not doubt the strength of his back and core, as he still pedalled all that way faster than anyone else. To do that we all know that you need to have a rock solid core and super strong back.
So how did he achieve those things? Most practitioners of sports therapy and injury prevention would suggest that you tuck your hips under and curve your back out at the base to stretch out the spine and the supporting erector spinae muscles. This programme goes totally against this accepted norm proposing that you actually arch your back! Yes! I know! Madness.
Most of us would do sit-ups or curls as the basis of any core workout but the Foundation Training implies that you get plenty of that style of movement in your daily life. Many of us amateur racing cyclists are doomed as sitting at a desk all day and riding a bike are both typical of that sort of movement. So to counter this they advocate strengthening your back – the posterior chain – as opposed to your abdominals, and actually go as far to say that you should train your back four times as much as your front. Hurray! No more sit-ups!
The exercises were in part developed for and used by Lance as a key part of his training. A typical cyclist, it helped him combat the rounded back that defines many cyclists. As you’ll see you require no equipment but you must be able to maintain good form and get it exactly right, otherwise you will make the exercise worthless. So practice makes perfect.
Dr. Eric Goodman, a chiropractor, developed the routine to get rid of his own back pain and then partnered with ex-triathlete Peter Parks to set-up Foundation Training.
What I like about these is that the main routine in the third video is only 15 minutes long and can help anyone with a bad back, not just cyclists, so I have been able to rope my girlfriend into doing it as well, making a nice change from doing core training alone. An ex-professional dancer, her back is a mess, and she was very sceptical about this programme but now is hooked.
So I highly recommend this to you. Give it 3 days and let us know how you get on via Twitter or on our Facebook page. Remember it is quite tough and your form needs to be spot on. Start with the Founder position in video 1. Try the wicked back extension in 2, and then when you are comfortable with those have a go at the tough 15 minute workout in 3. Did I say it was tough? You have been warned but prepare to be pain free.
This is a must for all cyclists. Learn from Lance (some stuff anyway). Now watch these videos…
There is a book and CD that can be purchased here, where you’ll also find a bit more information: